Today’s Mystery Monday feature is the first in the Molly Sutton mystery series by Nell Goddin, The Third Girl. A new author to me, Goddin has set her stories in a fictitious village in France, Castillac where the the gendarmerie consists of 3 officers and everyone knows everyone else’s business or at least appears to know it. The sixth book in this series was published in Dec/16 and while the characters develop through the series, each book is a standalone mystery.
Molly Sutton is an almost-40 American ex-pat who longs to have children of her own and is putting her life together after a divorce. Having tried various careers, none of which were a good fit, she has come to the picturesque village of Castillac, bought a property with a house, a cottage, and several other outbuildings where she plans to rent her cottage to tourists and eventually to convert other outbuildings to rent as well. She has hardly begun her enterprise and is just beginning to know a few people, when a talented young female student from the local prestigious art school, L’Institut Degas, disappears without a trace. Despite the French law that says police do not investigate missing persons unless said person is a child, Chief Dufort and his two constables are determined to solve this mystery since Amy Bennett is the third girl to disappear in recent years and the first two cases are still open. Suddenly Molly no longer feels safe in her idyllic country setting.
This mystery gives a delightful glimpse into French village life and the three gendarmerie have totally different personalities and approaches to their police work. There are lots of suspects in the small town, some of them local and some rival teachers at the art school, while flashbacks to the early history of some of them give the reader lots to think about. We meet the anguished parents who come to stay in Molly’s cottage, several characters who haunt the local pub, Chez Papa, and some colourful market vendors. Molly doesn’t actively do any sleuthing but tends to stumble upon information and is able to connect tidbits of gossip with the few facts unearthed to suddenly identify the murderer only to realize that he also knows she knows. Best not to retire that small can of mace after all.
This is a kind of “cozy” mystery — nothing brutal or gory to speak of — and lots of everyday details of interest, interesting people, and a slice of France to be savoured along the way. There’s a glossary at the back to explain the French terms sprinkled throughout the book — nothing very difficult to stand in the way of your enjoyment. I’m looking forward to reading others in this series. I did find the eBook hard to read as the print was quite small; it occasionally opened larger but always on the part I’d finished, not on the part ahead. But the story itself was well-written and extremely enjoyable. * * * *
If you, too, are a fan of mysteries, I hope you’ll not only enjoy my Monday posts but will contribute by publishing your own Monday Mystery, mentioning my meme, then come to my blog, comment on your mystery (or mine) briefly, and include the link directly to your mystery review. You can also copy my MMM badge to your post.